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We hear from Mandy Green, the Director Aspiration (named Careers Leader) at The Bedford Academy about adapting to the virtual world to help support her students.

My role is to evaluate, design and oversee delivery of all aspect’s careers program. I also help contribute to PCD (personal & careers development lessons) which all students have with their tutor once a week.   

The value of mock interviews

When planning for this year, mock interviews was at the top of my list for events that had to go ahead if at all possible. They have proven to be our most impactful careers event every year, and we have done so for the past seven years. This has been demonstrated through student, staff and employer feedback. In previous years, staff have noticed that the students seem to ‘step up’ a gear, following the mock interviews and be much more focused and motivated.

Adapting to virtual mock interviews

The first thing was consider was logistics; how can we ensure safeguarding and digital learning standards are adhered to. CVs - students were told not to add personal details on other than first name and tutor group, we used the school leaver template from ‘How to get Employed’, written by Tim Guest - one of our employer mentors.

There were some challenges along the way, but the feedback and impact it had on the students far outweigh these. I would absolutely do this again. With the knowledge that careers encounters in the current climate are a challenge, I think we can help support each other by sharing our learning points as well as our successes.​

Each day in the run up to and delivery of the event brought logistical challenges, however it was important to stay focused on the value and purpose of the event. These included an IT security systems update meaning that 1 days’ worth of interviews had to be cancelled, and on another day, 65 students had to self-isolate. This meant that we had to re-schedule some again for the new year - to ensure all students are able to benefit from this event.

Student impact examples

Student A)

‘Before the mock interview, if I’m being honest, I was nervous beyond belief.  It was quite overwhelming at first, as we as year 11's hadn't had many experiences like this to this point. I personally was and still am pretty thankful for the opportunity, it will definitely aid us in preparation for our upcoming 6th form/college interviews.”

Student B)

“The interview went well. It gave me a chance to boost my confidence and now I will find it easier to talk to people and hold a conversation.”

Volunteer feedback

“I can see this a mammoth task and all credit to the careers' team for organising it - very well done, especially under the circumstances.  The students are very lucky to have such a dedicated team who want to make the best out of the situation and get quality interviews for everyone.  Really good effort. Appreciate the tech issues - but all in all, really good.”

Advice & takeaways:

A few takeaways for any other Careers Leader looking to try this out:

  • Just because things are tricky and we have to do things differently it was still worth having a go.  Students were really grateful and got loads out of taking part.
  • Check computers beforehand
  • Buy headphones with built in microphones